I’m a lawyer at Friends of the Earth, and today is a massive day for my team – and the climate. Today is the day we take the government to court over its failure to protect future generations from dangerous climate change.
Long before I worked here, our legal team helped to establish the laws that are meant to keep the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions down.
Associated laws also mean we can challenge the government if it green-lights an infrastructure project that puts the climate at risk. And today we’re doing just that, over a project that could do more harm to the climate than any other – the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
What makes today even more exciting was that we weren’t at the High Court alone. Like us, several other organisations and a brave individual launched legal challenges when the government approved a new runway back in June 2018. Over the coming weeks the judge will hear arguments and evidence from all of us. We’re at the tip of a very big iceberg.
Thousands of you are represented too. Your messages of objection – displayed on paper planes (what else!) – are surrounding the entrance to the High Court.
So why exactly is this trial so important? Heathrow is already far and away the biggest polluter in the UK. Building a third runway would swell the skies with even more planes and fatally undermine efforts to deal with the unfolding climate crisis.
Even the government’s economic claims about Heathrow collapse on closer examination. Its own figures show that a third runway in West London would be poor or low value for money. Why not invest in green transport all around the country instead?
But today isn’t really about economics or a big strip of tarmac, or even planes. It’s about climate change, and whether the UK is actually serious about dealing with it. We know that you and the majority of people in this country are. The launch of this landmark trial shows that we are too.
Lawyer for Friends of the Earth